Bulgaria May Find 'Oldest Town'

Article excerpt

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) - A prehistoric town unearthed in eastern Bulgaria is the oldest urban settlement found to date in Europe, a Bulgarian archaeologist said Thursday.

Vasil Nikolov, a professor from Bulgaria's National Institute of Archaeology, said the stone walls excavated by his team near the town of Provadia are estimated to date between 4,700 and 4,200 B.C. He said the walls, which are 3 meters (10 feet) high and 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) thick, are believed to be the earliest and most massive fortifications from Europe's prehistory.

''We started excavation work in 2005, but only after this archaeological season did we gather enough evidence to back up this claim,'' Nikolov told The Associated Press.

The team has so far unearthed remains of a settlement of two-story houses with a diameter of about 100 meters (328 feet) encircled by a fortified wall .

Excavations have also uncovered a series of pits used for rituals as well as parts of a gate. Carbon analysis has dated them to the Chalcolithic age to between 4,700 and 4,200 B.C., he said - more than a millennium before the start of the ancient Greek civilization. …